Welcome to PBT’s roundup of the day in NBA action. Or, what you missed while watching some goat farmers win the Amazing Race…
Jazz 117, Lakers 110: The Lakers most passionate and probably best player was Jordan Hill. That’s not a good sign. The Lakers defense was sad and Utah outworked them, we break it all down here.
Knicks, 112, Nuggets 106: Carmelo Anthony was back and the Knicks looked good in a win over the inconsistent Nuggets. Our own Brett Pollakoff broke it down for us.
Bucks 97, Nets 88: After an early 9-0 run by Brooklyn this game was all Milwaukee — the Bucks were up 7 after one quarter, 17 at the half and got the lead up to 29 in the third and that was just too deep for the Nets to get out of. Even though the Nets got it all the way back down to six in the fourth quarter. The Bucks got that lead because of their guards: Brandon Jennings had 18 of his 26 in the first half and Monta Ellis added 24 points on 13 shots. Gerald Wallace was key to the Nets comeback and had 9 of his 16 in the fourth quarter. Deron Williams had 18 on the night.
Clippers 102, Raptors 83: This game was tied 60-60 and was close until a 21-1 Los Angeles fourth quarter run — a run from their bench. Eric Bledsoe had 10 in the fourth quarter, Jamal Crawford and Ronny Turiaf added 6 each and no Clipper starter played in the fourth quarter. For the third straight game. That kind of bench is huge during a long regular season.
Thunder 104, Pacers 93: It was a tale of two halves. In the first half the Thunder didn’t put much pressure on the Pacers defensively and the result was David West with 13 points and Lance Stephenson with 10, combined they were 10-of-13 shooting. But in the second half the Thunder stepped up the pressure, Indiana shot 33.3 percent for the half and was 0-7 in the final 5:30, and that was all she wrote. Kevin Durant had 27, Kevin Martin had an efficient 24 for OKC
Magic 98, Suns 90: The gutted Magic have gone 3-2 on their road trip Phoenix has now lost seven straight. This game was decided at the end of the third quarter and into the start of the fourth when the Magic went on a 21-10 run to take the lead they would not let go. It was the Magic bench, which had 49 points, that was key — especially Andrew Nicholson, who had 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting, plus had 9 boards. J.J. Redick had 20 for the Magic; Shannon Brown led the Suns with 17 points but needed 16 shots to get them.
DeMarcus Cousins is set to start practicing with Warriors’ G-League team
According to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater, Warriors coach Steve Kerr says that Cousins will start to practice with Golden State’s G-League affiliate the Santa Cruz Warriors.
DeMarcus Cousins will practice with the Warriors’ G-League team at some point soon, maybe as early as this week, to really ramp up toward return. Warriors midseason practices are too light. Kerr wants Cousins in high intensity environments.
Reports have said that Cousins is slated to return with the team after Christmas, and so this timeline stays with that thinking. Returns from Achilles injuries can be dodgy, and there will be a lot of question marks about his ability, both due to his size and age.
If Cousins can come back and produce efficiently, he will help bolster Golden State against a shifting Western Conference in the playoffs.
David West on Draymond Green-Kevin Durant dust-up: ‘I could’ve stopped it’
David West used to be a calming influence in the Golden State Warriors locker room. The former two-time All-Star big man retired in August after a long career, and the Warriors are perhaps worse off because of it.
West was known to be the guy who could sort out the problems of other teammates, acting as an enforcer and mediator, a focuser of will. That might have come in handy this season as the Warriors have had some internal strife.
During a recent interview with The Athletic, West said he felt he would have been able to diffuse the situation during the Clippers game and avoid some of the questions about Golden State moving forward.
“I’m gonna be honest,” West told The Athletic by phone last month. “The only moment (where) I said, ‘Man, I wish I was there,’ was at that Clippers game. When Draymond turned the ball over at the end — and he was going to create the play; he was going to make the play, it just sometimes doesn’t happen — at that moment, when I saw the way he was walking, and I saw KD react, and it was like ‘Oh, I know if I was there that shit wouldn’t have happened.’ That’s the only moment where I felt like, ‘Man I could’ve stopped it.’”
At this juncture it’s hard to know just how much the issues between Durant and Green will cause, playoff time. The question about Durant leaving in free agency isn’t of real concern at this moment, mostly because it’s impossible to predict.
From an outside perspective, it does seem like West would have been a major factor during the Durant-Green tiff if he’d been in a Warriors jersey. West went on to say that the idea that Golden State doesn’t have to deal with adversity is “a false narrative”.
Will the Warriors be cohesive enough come playoff time? We’ll just have to wait to find out.
Report: Lakers trying to add Trevor Ariza via trade
Phoenix Suns wing Trevor Ariza has been a popular target of topic of discussion for NBA fans, either as a potential buyout candidate or as a trade target for playoff teams looking to add a wily veteran.
On Sunday, we got word of one potential deal with the Los Angeles Lakers that could involve Ariza.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Ariza could be on the move if LA can find a third party to take on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
The teams have been working to reach an agreement with a third team that would take on Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as part of a potentially larger deal, league sources said.
The Suns want to land a playmaking guard and a draft asset as the price of unloading Ariza, sources said. Phoenix and Los Angeles have made progress in third-team scenarios, although no agreements are close and both teams remain active in multiple trade discussions throughout the league, sources said.
This is an early report but it clearly signals that the Lakers are going to be bold as they try to solidify be roster around LeBron James heading into the new year. They’ve already added veteran big man is Tyson Chandler, also formerly of the Suns, so trading for Ariza would be in line with that strategy.
Eric Gordon says Rockets are ‘not using some guys the right way’
The Houston Rockets aren’t who we thought they were. The team that gave the Golden State Warriors a run for their money in the Western Conference Finals last season have looked unsteady to open the year, and despite jettisoning Carmelo Anthony, have not returned to their former glory.
While this has much to do with overall team construction, individual players in Houston have struggled as well. Do-it-all wing Eric Gordon has had a down year, with just about all of his advanced statistics taking a significant drop. Most important has been his 3-point shooting, which is down five percent year-over-year. Even when Gordon has performed well, it’s not always translated to wins for Houston.
The talk around the Rockets has been about their stars struggling, but so too has their lack of comparative bench depth hamstrung them. Gordon’s solid performances lacking an impact on the win-loss column is illustrative of that.
For his part, Gordon says that he’s still not having fun on the floor in Houston, and that he feels the team’s meager roster isn’t being used properly.
“I’m just not having fun man,” Gordon told The Athletic. “I’m just not. This sucks. Even the times where I have good games. We’re just not using some guys the right way. Are we gonna make the right sacrifices? Do we have the right attitude?
“Last year was the best year I’ve ever had being a part of a team,” he added. “We just never had a bad moment. If we ever had a bad game as a team, you knew the next game we would blow somebody out. It didn’t matter who it was.”
The Rockets are 11-14 and have the second-worst record in the Western Conference. There’s many months left in the season, and there’s plenty of time to rebound. But unless Houston can get their internal struggles figured out — or trade for an impact player — it seems possible they finish the year scraping for a playoff spot or missing the postseason altogether.